It’s been a while since Part 2 of our “Data Protection Survey Series.” I’ve been very busy preparing for Syncsort’s sales kickoff coming up in a couple of weeks and also doing some early prep for NetApp Insight in Macau, China in February (hope to see lots of NetApp partners there!). Kickoff should be a great affair with lots of interesting guest speakers, and I’ll be sure to provide some reports from the event. Meanwhile, back to our survey!
Our final topic is recovery, and the short version of our survey results is that data recovery is truly at risk for many organizations. Systems are not being protected as they should be, and confidence levels are not high.
We started by asking what percent of servers were being backed up each night (broken out into physical and virtual). For physical servers, only 29 percent of respondents were backing up 100 percent of their servers. This means that 71 percent had some amount of exposure to unprotected data.
On the virtual side, results were both better and worse.
A slightly higher percentage of users (31 percent) were backing up 100 percent of their virtual machines (VMs), but there were more users protecting less than 50 percent of their VMs.
The first problem around recovery is that a lot of data (roughly 30 percent) is not even being backed up on any given night. However, the question specifically asked respondents to only consider their backup schedules. In other words, what percentage of your servers are you even trying to back up? It didn’t take into account backup success rates, so that was our next question. What percentage of your backups complete successfully each night?
Only 18 percent of users are seeing 100 percent nightly success rates. The bulk of respondents (57 percent) were getting what is typically considered a reasonable success rate of between 91 and 99 percent. However, a full 25 percent of respondents were at 90 percent or less success, adding a significant amount of data exposure to their organizations each night.
With all these issues around backup, we wanted to see how confident users were about data protection. The answer: not very. We wanted to know how people would view a major disaster where an entire data center was lost, so we asked: “In the event that you lost an entire data center, how confident are you that you could restore application services in a timely manner?” Here are the responses.
Only 14 percent considered themselves “totally confident” with another 33 percent “very confident” (defined as: “I expect most recoveries will succeed but I am not convinced I can achieve 100 percent recovery of all systems”).
More than 50 percent of users had a significant degree of uncertainty. In fact, the results are worse than shown here because 14 percent of total respondents said they didn’t have disaster recovery in place at all! They responses were excluded from the chart. So, well over half of our survey participants are effectively risking their businesses in the event of a major disaster.
Our final question was around disaster recovery (DR) testing. DR testing is usually a rather difficult affair, often involving long hours on weekends spent trying to bring up systems. But testing is critical: it’s the only way to know you can actually restore your data when you need to.
Again, we see a lot of potential exposure. A little over half of respondents test DR at least once a year. The rest range from less than once a year to never, or they have no DR to test. When we correlated “confidence” with “testing,” it was not a big surprise to find that among the group that were “totally confident” they could restore data, 60 percent of them said they test more than once a year and 29 percent tested once a year. That’s a huge correlation of 89 percent of the “totally confident” users testing their DR once a year or more.
On the flip side, of those that were “reasonably confident” they could restore data, only 9 percent tested more than once a year and 32 percent tested once a year. You couldn’t ask for a clearer indication that “testing equals confidence,” and that’s why one of the things I like to emphasize about NetApp Syncsort Integrated Backup is that it makes DR and testing your DR so easy. It’s no wonder that more than 90 percent of NSB customers deploy at least two NetApp FAS units, one for local backup and recovery and the other for remote-site disaster recovery.
Data protection and recovery are serious concerns and can’t be taken lightly. I certainly don’t think that all the risk exposure our survey uncovered is because users are indifferent to the problem. What they are is overwhelmed. Too much data plus disruptive new technologies like virtualization have made conventional backup models obsolete.
As our survey showed, this has led to a mix of problems: too many products being used, backups taking too long, and recovery at risk. Backup needs to be modernized and it can’t happen too soon!